BGC CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO LISTEN TO PUNTERS’ WARNINGS FOLLOWING ‘ALARMING’ SURVEY SHOWING VAST MAJORITY FEAR STRINGENT SPENDING CHECKS LEADING TO RISE IN UNSAFE BLACK MARKET
Betting and Gaming Council chief executive Michael Dugher has called on the Government to “take heed” of punters after a survey showed high levels of opposition to stringent checks on how much they are allowed to spend.
Racing TV asked 2,000 of their members for their views on so-called “affordability” checks that could involve customers being required to hand over payslips and bank statements to betting companies to assess how much they can spend, which are being considered as part of the Government’s Gambling Review.
Some 95 per cent stated that they would not be happy for bookmakers to have access to their bank accounts to check whether they can afford to bet.
Worryingly, the survey also found that 85 per cent of those asked think that there is a danger of punters using the unsafe, unregulated black market online if restrictions were implemented.
It found that 88 per cent believe that they should have the freedom to choose how much they bet without Government interference.
The BGC has argued for enhanced spending checks to be targeted at those that are vulnerable or at higher risk of problem gambling. According to the survey, 74 per cent thinking that checks should be reserved for those with potential problems controlling their gambling expenditure.
The findings echo the results of a YouGov poll for the BGC which found that 59 per cent of UK adults agree that “if there are too many limits placed on people to bet”, they will shift to the unsafe black market.
They also chime with several other surveys. For instance, 94 per cent of people polled for At The Races stated that they would not be happy for bookmakers to have access to their bank statements.
Meanwhile, three separate surveys by BGC member Flutter found that 88 per cent of respondents were very uncomfortable or uncomfortable about uploading copies of wage slips and/or bank statements to prove affordability.
Responding to the Racing TV survey, Michael Dugher said: “I’m alarmed at the findings - particular the high number who believe that punters will simply move to the unsafe, unregulated black market online if blanket enhanced spending checks are introduced – and hope that ministers will take heed of punters’ views.
“We strongly support the Gambling Review as an evidence-led process, but it’s vitally important that it strikes the right balance between protecting the vulnerable and not spoiling the enjoyment of the vast majority of customers who enjoy a flutter safely and responsibly.
“I am not opposed to spending checks, but believe we should use the technology that is now available to target those people who are at vulnerable or at higher risk of problem gambling and providing them with the help they need, rather than blanket checks on every punter.
“The Racing TV survey – like the poll we commissioned earlier this year – show that the unsafe, unregulated black market online, which has none of the safer gambling measures used by our members, stands to benefit if the Government fails to get the necessary changes in the Gambling Review right.
“Any shift to the unsafe black market would also jeapordise the £350m a year which our members currently give to horseracing in sponsorship, media rights and the betting levy – financial support which has proved crucial during the pandemic.”